Alleging that the Delhi Police had visited his Mayur Vihar house in Delhi to execute an arrest warrant issued by a Mumbai court in a case of hurting the religious sentiment of Christians, eminent rationalist thinker Sanal Edamaruku has said the charges levelled against him were based on religious intolerance and arrogance.
Talking to The Hindu from an undisclosed location, Mr. Edamaruku said: “Through reliable sources, I have learnt that someone from the Mayur Vihar police station visited my house to execute the warrant, stating that it was as a follow-up of an order issued by a Karkardooma court.”
Mr. Edamaruku said “efforts to silence different views come from fanatic mindset. They do not have the courage to have intellectual dialogue with me on the basis of facts, science and history and are rather indulging in witch-hunting against me. It is cowardice. I stand for reason, common sense and science.”
“For the past 30 years, I have been speaking and writing against superstitions and educating public against blind beliefs. Under the Indian Constitution, it is my fundamental duty to promote scientific temper, spirit of inquiry and humanism and reform. I am committed to dispel superstitions and will continue to expose such things. Exposing of false miracle claims is my responsibility. I am not afraid of the efforts of fanatics to silence me,” he said.
On the legal recourse he intends to take, the rationalist thinker said: “I initially filed an anticipatory bail application in the Delhi High Court that directed me to approach the Mumbai court. I then moved the plea before the Bombay High Court, which has asked me to file the application in the Sessions Court … I am hopeful that the court will grant me anticipatory bail.”
Earlier, a visit to Mr. Edamaruku’s flat — No. 779 in Pocket 5 of Mayur Vihar, Phase-I in East Delhi — revealed that the premises had been locked for the past few days. His neighbours expressed their inability to shed much light on the police visits and whereabouts of Mr. Edamaruku.
However, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East Delhi) Prabhakar said: “So far we have no information on the matter.”
The Mumbai Police, meanwhile, said they had issued a warrant against Mr. Edamaruku last month on a First Information Report filed by Agnelo Fernandez complaining that he had hurt the religious sentiments of Christians and had insulted the religion.
Mr. Edamaruku was booked under Section 295 (A) of the Indian Penal Code, which pertains to deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.
“Yes, we issued a warrant against Sanal Edamaruku last month. We have sent it to the court in Delhi. The Delhi Police will arrest him and produce him in the court,” said Suryakant Salvi, assistant inspector of the Juhu station.
Two FIRs had been registered against Mr. Edamaruku at the Juhu station and the MIDC station after he allegedly accused the Pope of exorcism and charged that Catholics were treading the path of superstition because of people like him.
Mr. Edamaruku was alleged to have made the comments on March 5 during a television programme, ‘Ye kaisi astha?’ (What can we say about such religious faith?) on channel TV9.
The programme was about people flocking to a private cross at Irla in Vile Parle to see the ‘miracle’ of water dripping from Jesus Christ’s feet. He criticised the religious leaders and accused them of creating such ‘miracles’ to bring more people into the fold of religion. “Why do Christians worship cross when it was on a cross that Jesus Christ was killed,” he asked in the TV programme, the FIR stated.
Complainants have alleged that Mr. Edamaruku visited Mumbai a few days after the news about the ‘miracle’ spread and not immediately. “When he came, the water was still dripping from the feet, but at a very slow pace; may be, a drop every half-an-hour. He looked around the place, made his assistant take some photographs, and left. We asked him if we should break the base where the cross was situated, so that it would help him better in his investigation. But he refused, saying that his investigation was done,” Judith Mantero, an eye-witness, told The Hindu .
She claimed that Mr. Edamaruku made the allegations without proper examination. “He was asked to apologise for making such rude and untrue comments. But he went on TV again and kept insulting the priests, the Bishop and the Pope,” Ms. Mantero said.
Arrest warrant issued for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Christians